Note: This blog was written in 2013 but I wanted to include it here because it covers my passions.
India – the land of a billion people thriving with energy, enth
usiasm and on
the verge of becoming a world power. Every year when I visit India, I get mesmerized by the rapid change and the amount of g
rowth happening and the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by the middle class here.
I had the opportunity to travel to a lot of different places to meet m
y family & friends and had the time to reflect on how much India, p
articularly Hyderabad had changed since I left 4 years ago. I was not sure if the rapid development was good or bad for the city but seeing the bright, shi
ny, smiling faces of the people here, I assumed it was all good.
I landed on the Republic Day and the whole airport and the city was decorated with our Tri-colored flag. My heart was filled with pride as I returned to my motherland and sang the National Anthem at the airport. And seeing my parents eagerly waiting for me doubled my joy.
My journey continued to my native place to visit my Granny and relatives, the place where my parents grew up. It had been almost 5 years since I had not been there. The bus trip from Goa to my village is incredibly beautiful. Steep, winding roads through the thick tropical forests of the Western Ghats with glimpses of rivers flowing through the valleys. The ghat section is pretty remote with no signs of human life and no cellphone coverage untill you come to the top of the hills. I used to travel every summer to this beautiful place when I was a kid and I was eager to see my village.
We reached in the night and just slept off. The next morning was a crisp dewy February morning with flowers blooming everywhere and the smell of dosas waking me up from my cozy slumber. It was great to talk to my granny after so long and hear her stories. I got to know how she got married when she was 12 years old and used to live with my grand dad and his mom in a small shack. Now that shack is a huge ancestral mansion with three floors and acres of bountiful land. I also got to know how my parents got married by accident and had not dad visited my mom that fateful day, I would never have been born.
The primary business of in my village is the sale of beetul nuts which is used in paan. We have huge plantations of them which look similar to palm trees, along with lots of coconut and banana trees. I walked through the plantations with my uncle and saw how it was maintained. The fruits are plucked in December when ripe and then spread in the backyards and on roofs to dry for a couple of months. Then the dried fruits are cut to reveal the nut inside. The red ones are the pricey ones which are sold in the market while the white nuts are consumed at home after every meal.
When I was a kid, I was an introvert and never used to talk to my cousins. During my summer vacations, my favorite place was the cow shed in the backyard. I used to spend hours playing with the calves and feeding them hay. I was excited to meet a new member this time – a 20-day old calf with beautiful creamy fur and innocent eyes which I instantly befriended.
We get milk daily from the cows and buffaloes at home and also have a biogas plant in the backyard generated from the manure and is used for cooking. In a way, this village has been a lot advanced in terms of sustainability and using renewable energy. Now that I work in the energy business, I appreciatd the use of available resources for generating energy rather than depend on conventional sources. The frequent power cuts do not hamper life because they have worked their way around it. My aunt still uses the stone grinder for making chutneys everyday because mixers are unreliable. I had a few ideas to improve their lives using solar energy and automatic water pumps but it would need some time to study and design the system. I was feeling like Shahrukh Khan in the movie Swades who returns home and builds a hydro generator to power his village.
After a heartful chat with everyone and lots of traditional delicacies which my granny made for me. A pumpkin sweet which is made by wrapping the pumpkin and rava mixture in banana leaf pockets and steaming them over a wood fire. Its totally worth the fats accumulating in my body.
We returned back to Hyderabad and had just two days to pack up and enjoy mommy’s cooking. I feel sad to leave my parents alone. I pray to God to keep them safe, healthy and happy. Wish they came to the US, it would be so much fun to show them around. Till then, I will miss India!